Saturday, 27 April 2013

strategies & stewardship

Martin Lukacs

First Nations people – and the decision of Canadians to stand alongside them – will determine the fate of the planet

In a boardroom in a soaring high-rise on Wall Street, Indigenous activist Arthur Manuel is sitting across from one of the most powerful financial agents in North America.

It's 2004, and Manuel is on a typical mission. Part of a line of distinguished Indigenous leaders from western Canada, Manuel is what you might call an economic hit-man for the right cause. A brilliant thinker trained in law, he has devoted himself to fighting Canada's policies toward Indigenous peoples by assailing the government where it hurts most – in its pocketbook.

Which is why he secured a meeting in New York with a top-ranking official at Standard & Poor's, the influential credit agency that issues Canada's top-notch AAA rating. That's what assures investors that the country has its debts covered, that it is a safe and profitable place to do business.

This coveted credit rating is Manuel's target. His line of attack is to try to lift the veil on Canada's dirty business secret: that contrary to the myth that Indigenous peoples leech off the state, resources taken from their lands have in fact been subsidizing the Canadian economy. In their haste to get at that wealth, the government has been flouting their own laws, ignoring Supreme Court decisions calling for the respect of Indigenous and treaty rights over large territories. Canada has become very rich, and Indigenous peoples very poor.

In other words, Canada owes big. Some have even begun calculating how much. According to economist Fred Lazar, First Nations in northern Ontario alone are owed $32 billion for the last century of unfulfilled treaty promises to share revenue from resources. Manuel's argument is that this unpaid debt – a massive liability of trillions of dollars carried by the Canadian state, which it has deliberately failed to report – should be recognized as a risk to the country's credit rating.

How did the official who could pull the rug under Canada's economy respond? Unlike Canadian politicians and media who regularly dismiss the significance of Indigenous rights, he took Manuel seriously. It was evident he knew all the jurisprudence. He followed the political developments. He didn't contradict any of Manuel's facts. 

He no doubt understood what Manuel was remarkably driving at: under threat of a dented credit rating, Canada might finally feel pressure to deal fairly with Indigenous peoples. But here was the hitch: Standard & Poor's wouldn't acknowledge the debt, because the official didn't think Manuel and First Nations could ever collect it. Why? As author Naomi Klein, who accompanied Manuel at the meeting, remembers, his answer amounted to a realpolitik shoulder shrug.

"Who will able to enforce the debt? You and what army?"

This was his brutal but illuminating admission: Indigenous peoples may have the law on their side, but they don't have the power. Indeed, while Indigenous peoples' protests have achieved important environmental victories – mining operations stopped here, forest conservation areas set up there – these have remained sporadic and isolated. Canada's country-wide policies of ignoring Indigenous land rights have rarely been challenged, and never fundamentally. 

Until now. If it's only a social movement that can change the power equation upholding the official's stance, then the Idle No More uprising may be it. Triggered initially in late 2012 by opposition to the Conservative government's roll-back of decades of environmental protection, this Indigenous movement quickly tapped into long-simmering indignation. Through the chilly winter months, Canada witnessed unprecedented mobilizations, with blockades and round-dances springing up in every corner of the country, demanding a basic resetting of the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples.

Money is not the main form this justice will take. First Nations desperately need more funding to close the gap that exists between them and Canadians. But if Indigenous peoples hold a key to the Canadian economy, the point is to use this leverage to steer the country in a different direction. "Draw that power back to the people on the land, the grassroots people fighting pipelines and industrial projects," Manuel says. "That will determine what governments can or cannot do on the land." 

The stakes could not be greater. The movement confronts a Conservative Canadian government aggressively pursuing $600 billion of resource development on or near Indigenous lands. That means the unbridled exploitation of huge hydrocarbon reserves, including the three-fold expansion of one of the world's most carbon-intensive projects, the Alberta tar sands. Living closest to these lands, Indigenous peoples are the best and last defence against this fossil fuel scramble. In its place, they may yet host the energy alternatives – of wind, water, or solar.

No surprise, then, about the government's basic approach toward First Nations: "removing obstacles to major economic development." Hence the movement's next stage – a call for defiance branded Sovereignty Summer – is to put more obstacles up. The assertion of constitutionally-protected Indigenous and treaty rights – backed up by direct action, legal challenges and massive support from Canadians – is exactly what can create chronic uncertainty for this corporate and government agenda. For those betting on more than a half-trillion in resource investments, that's a very big warning sign.

Industry has taken notice. A recent report on mining dropped Canada out of the top spot for miners: "while Canadian jurisdictions remain competitive globally, uncertainties with Indigenous consultation and disputed land claims are growing concerns for some." And if the uncertainty is eventually tagged with a monetary sum, then Canada will, as Manuel warned Standard & Poor's, face a large and serious credit risk. Trying to ward off such a threat, the government is hoping to lock mainstream Indigenous leaders into endless negotiations, or sway them with promises of a bigger piece of the resource action.

But this bleak outlook intent on a final ransacking of the earth doesn't stand up to the vision the movement offers Canadians. Implementing Indigenous rights on the ground, starting with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, could tilt the balance of stewardship over a vast geography: giving Indigenous peoples much more control, and corporations much less. Which means that finally honouring Indigenous rights is not simply about paying off Canada's enormous legal debt to First Nations: it is also our best chance to save entire territories from endless extraction and destruction. In no small way, the actions of Indigenous peoples – and the decision of Canadians to stand alongside them – will determine the fate of the planet.

This new understanding is dawning on more Canadians. Thousands are signing onto educational campaigns to become allies to First Nations. Direct action trainings for young people are in full swing. As Chief Allan Adam from the First Nation in the heart of the Alberta oil patch has suggested, it might be "a long, hot summer."

Sustained action that puts real clout behind Indigenous claims is what will force a reckoning with the true nature of Canada's economy – and the possibility of a transformed country. That is the promise of a growing mass protest movement, an army of untold power and numbers.

• Follow Martin on Twitter: @Martin_Lukacs

Links are from the original article: the only added links are back to source article 

Naomi Klein Reminisce (2010)

Sylvia MacAdam Interview (2013)

see also

Why Canada’s Indigenous Uprising Is About All of Us YES! Magazine Executive Editor Sarah van Gelder spoke with two of the founders on January 13: Sylvia McAdam, an author and educator from the Nehiyaw (Cree) Nation, and Sheelah McLean, an instructor at the University of Saskatchewan whose ancestors were European settlers.

Feb. 25, 2010 - Naomi Klein gives a lecture on the issue of climate debt, organized by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

vid2 Published on Apr 6, 2013
Native American author and educator Sylvia McAdam is one of the founders of idle No More. She talks about that international movement with Free Press' Joseph Torres at the 2013 National Conference for Media Reform in Denver. More NCMR coverage at

Friday, 26 April 2013

Conversations with Khatsalano: CE-QUAL-LIA, or SE-QUAIL-YAH, 1953

Through the magics of modern technology, i have inadvertently transformed this image of Sequailyah cooking salmon, from a single photographic image, to three. I have had to relocate her in the Vancouver Archives, to represent the photograph accurately:

This is a pretty good visual reminder of how difficult it may be, to locate and translate woman's history and indigenous history through all the many filters that stand between the simplest living moment, and the "on the record" versions.

The desire to make a page available as an image, from the pdf of the book, is what led to the threefold extraction of the photograph.


August Jack Khatsalano, 1941 (image source)

Conversations with Khahtsahlano, 1932-1954

Transcribed conversations between City Archivist J.S.Matthews and August Jack Khahtsahlano about early First Nations life in the Vancouver area. Includes maps of local place names, sketches photographs and index.

Image used on book cover from 1946

I have been researching local place names, and Lee Maracle drew my attention to this book. Among the numerous conversations recorded were interviews with a focus on place names. 

But the conversations, with Khatsalano and many other informants (both indigenous and settler), range very widely beyond the water-centric and the geographical: Khatsahlano comes through as a patient informant and knowledgeable historian, and occasionally as the recipient of some pretty dubious questions, to which he responded or not as seemed the more sensible route.

The photos of August Jack Khatsalano and Se Quali Yah are presented as pages 72 C and 72 D, on page 96 in the PDF. The book is available via the Internet Archive, and both photos are also available via the Vancouver  Archives.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Saving the Life Keepers: Sunday at Science World

Film Night with Brian Campbell

View Film Trailer

The new science of sustainable beekeeping

At the Science World in Vancouver BC

Free screening at 7PM

Sunday April 28th 2013

Science World at TELUS World of Science

1455 Quebec St. | Vancouver, BC | Canada V6A 3Z7

Free registration link posted on this webpage:

From the forests of Mexico to the farm lands 
and cities of North America, learn how 
successful beekeepers overcome challenges 
and develop sustainable practices 
to improve the quality and quantity of 
honey bee populations. 

Meet film producer Jocelyn Demers and 

Local honey will be available for sale.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Kuniharu Shimizu: the art of haiga

Just an artwork - Feb. 1

I collected some dry leaves, and arranged them like flowers. The artwork came out in a way I had intended. Haiku, however, did not come. I am still thinking...
posted by kuni_san 

"In haiku, poets express his/her feeling by using things in the nature, things around them, and produce poetic content. The poetic content is like a tiny seed, and it can grow to something larger. For example, from haiku, haibun (haiku prose) grows. Matsuo Basho’s “Narrow Road to the Far North” is a travel journel but it can be viewed as haibun. From haiku, haiga (haiku+artwork) grows. This is my speciality. The lyrical seed is the inspiration for larger creative works."

Above, a sampling of haiga produced and published by Kuni on seehaikuhere, Jan 22-Feb 13, 2013, ending with a 'silent' haiga, an image without a poem. 

The simplicity of the images and the affirmative sentiments captured in each poem found great resonance in this reader. The quoted words are from a personal discussion, in which Kuni expressed the poetic context and relationship between the small and the larger works in this poetic tradition.

The photo of the artist is from an untitled post, here.

Worldman, a story in translation [pdf]

Kuni's bio
Kuni's books online
Kuni's blog

Unknown grasses
look how well they compose 
~ Kuniharu Shimizu

at last

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Jason Gutz, ComiCinema + NegoVision

My known self will never be more
than a little clearing in the forest...

Gods, strange gods, come forth...
and then go back...

I must have the courage
to let them come and go.

~ D. H. Lawrence, Sons & Lovers 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Stranger from Jason Gutz on Vimeo.

"In 1996 I made my first videos as part of a class at the University of Washington. I've worked professionally in the video business since 1998. That was also the year that I made my first Super-8 film. I was a member of a group called "The Super-8 Thugs". We would put on themed shows that had live music and theatre. The thugs disbanded around 2000 and I carried on doing shows that incorporated music, theatre and film. Among those are "The Doug Lane Probe Experiment", "Sequence" and "Eyes and Ears Tsunami". My main interest is ComiCinema, an exploration of linear sequence (movies and film) with spatial sequence (comics). These Super-8 ComiCinema films have been turned into sculptures. All of them have used my Negovision process of hand developing the Super-8 film as a negative."
~Jason Gutz on Vimeo

Uploaded on Apr 26, 2007 This is the second ComiCinema film I made. ComiCinema is my term for film in which I explore the tools used in Comics. It uses the Nego-Vision technique where I hand develop Super-8 film to a negative and paint the actors and props black where I want white and vice versa.
Literary riff 1   Robert Louis Steveson

 vid 2
This is the first ComiCinema film I did in Negovision. It was done for a Super-8 show of films made from reading the Cliff Notes of various novels. Dedicated to Erik Jacobson (1973-2009).

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

romantic nz

Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill - Third Reading - Part 20

New Zealand votes to legalize same-sex marriage and breaks into song

New Zealand's parliament voted to legalize same-sex marriage today (April 17).
Upon the passing of the third reading—which passed 77 to 44—the gallery broke into song, singing “Pokarekare Ana", a traditional love song.
If the law is given royal assent by the country's governor-general (all but a sure thing), New Zealand will become the 13th country to legalize same-sex marriage.


Sinixt people: a place at the table

Sinixt Nation -Arrow Lakes -Bonegame Film [Bring Home the Bones]*

Although it is common for indigenous homelands to straddle, surpass, pre-exist and if at all possible ignore settler boundaries, in the west BC has shown a special intolerance of truth, and an uncompromising favouring of settler over indigenous, and convenience over reality. 
The provincial and federal governments have colluded to impose a situation on some of the Salish that was not imposed for instance in Six Nations regions, perhaps because they were not participating properly in the colonial project, here in the west, back in the day. 
Equality was less of an issue, and injustice was deemed preferable.

The April 12 2013 press release by the Sinixt Nation shares again the history of Sinixt Nation, and the continuing colonial responses of the federal government. This history is important in itself, and also in that it shines a light across all of the ongoing conversations that indigenous and colonial peoples have had, must have, and will continue to have, until the aggressive apartheid can be completely revolted against, and the reconciliations of all the faces and forces of history become a synthesized story of our shared history, and of truth and justice in the present day. 

If the federal government can acknowledge that it moved communities of Inuit around for non-Inuit reasons, surely it can acknowledge the similar reality here in BC. 

If overlapping land claims can be sorted out coast to coast, surely this one can be sorted out as well, equitably and morally.
Here is a small excerpt from the recent Sinixt Nation Press Release
The traditional winter shelter of the indigenous people of the headwaters of the Columbia River and that of all interior Salish peoples was the pit-house. Hundreds of house-pit depressions are found throughout the region. The archaeological reports confirm that Sinixt people lived in pit-houses while the Ktunaxa people did not.
Obviously the indigenous people of the Arrow Lakes region were Salish in origin as can be determined by the place names in the region having their roots in Salish culture. The name for Nakusp itself is named after a sn-selxcin word (Lakes-Okanagan language), “nkwusp.” The town of Slocan is named after the sn-selxcin word, “slhu7kin,” translated as “speared in the head” in reference to the Sinixt tradition of spear-fishing in the region.
The Nakusp Museum holds an impressive collection of local Sinixt artifacts from the region some of which were donated by Sinixt Nation Headman Vance Robert (Bob) Campbell Sr..
Over the past 20 years Sinixt Nation has worked with schools in Nakusp, Trail, Nelson, Castlegar, Winlaw and more to share traditional stories with children such as the Frog Mountain (Mt. Wilton) Story. School District 20 has officially recognized the Sinixt Nation as the indigenous people of their region and Trail BC.
Sinixt Nation hereby informs everyone of their obligations to indigenous and international laws and also that they have a duty to respect and recognize Sinixt Nation members inherent and entitled rights to our traditional territory. A map of Sinixt territory can be found online on our website.
Read the full press release:

Sinixt lands map by most witnesses show that the traditional territories
are primarily north of contemporary Canada-US international boundary
I don't have an investment in modern land clams, in the sense of should they be negotiated, or is the position of standing aside from the invitation to trade away rights a more empowered stance. As an urban indigenous and a mixed blood who is thoroughly displaced, I am far from advising those with a land base and any form of cultural continuity at all, how best to meet the challenges of co-existence. 

That said, if the imposition of racist laws prevented the free enjoyment and natural development and expression of Sinixt life in Canada, economic and otherwise, that is reason enough to insist upon their recognition, and inclusion by all. 

The Musqueam people likewise were for the most part forced from the islands of the Fraser River estuary, according to oral history and both archeological and historical records, and pressed onto reserve lands, within their ancestral realms but away from their usual economic sustenance and traditional domiciles/ homelife. This severance was less severe, but no less disruptive.

The people of Xwáýxway, a village in the area now named Stanley Park, likewise do not currently live on the peninsula, but do remember, and cherish the ongoing relationships. The Squamish did not end up with an international border between their current landbase and their traditional lands/old village sites, however, there is a similar and an acknowledged pattern here. The impact of dispossession and grief, and the decades of cumulative impact, can begin to be reversed at any time.

Acknowledging the traditional and territorial rights of the Musqueam people, the Squamish people, the Inuit or the Innu, it is all the same-- along with benefiting from the long memory of the elders in order to make sense of current expressions of collective life, within our specific geographies, the shared grief that is that simmering energy between racialized groups begins to find more positive routes of expression. 

It all begins with that life affirming acceptance of both sides of history, fundamental human rights, shared truth.

The Sinix't, Bringing Home the Bones 

[Bring Home the Bones]frogmountainfilms

see also,
Trailer for a documentary film "Bring Home the Bones", originally titled "The Bone Game", a glimpse into the story of the Sinixt Nation and our peoples determination to continue our cultural and spiritual laws and practices as appointed down to us by our elders and clan-mothers and our struggle to have our tribe and people recognized by CANADA and the BC governments since they fraudulently extincted our people in 1956. Interviews with Appointed Sinixt Spokesperson Marilyn James, Archeologist Gordon Mohs, 

Appointed Hereditary Sinixt Headman Vance Robert (Bob) Campbell, community members and more. The film also looks at some of the work done by Sinixt to reclaim and protect our ancient village and burial sites and to repatriate 64 ancestral remains from private and public collections such as the Royal Museum of British Columbia. 

For More Info:

vid2  Uploaded on Jun 23, 2010
Trailer for the Feature length Docu-Drama The Sinix't, Bringing Home the Bones.
A film about a group of aboriginal peoples falsely declared extinct and disenfranchised from their right to enter and remain in their ancestral homeland within the country of Canada in order for a controversial damming system to be put in place without dispute on the Columbia river system in BC.
Here is the story of their struggle to shed this "ghost" status and return to the land where their ancestors bones lay, just 50 years after being declared extinct. The Sinix't people have been fighting their "extinction" for the last 25 years, as well as setting precedent for the return of their ancestors bones from museums throughout the province.
map from among the many gathered on the Sinixt Nation website,


Monday, 15 April 2013

Kamala Das II: Painter-Poet

from M.P. Devika, Kamala Das as a painter-poet
These paintings by the late Kamala Das were included in an exhibition of a series titled "Unfinished Women."

from M.P. Devika, Kamala Das as a painter-poet
To read the very interesting study within which I found these presentations of her visual work, as well as a discussion of her poetry and how these relate: Kamala Das as a painter-poet: An analysis of her paintings and poems by M. P. Devika (2002)

The thesis is my source for the images, and includes an interview with the artist (two pages reproduced below), as well as an extensive inspection of the multicultural influences that formed a part of her base or web, and also those that suggest common misfilings of her poetic and painterly works.

To read more about this artist, including some of her poetry,  see (in this blog),
Kamala Das: I too call myself I
 and follow the links.

Two pages from the Nov 9, 2000 interview with Kamala Das, as published by M.P. Devika (source)

Friday, 12 April 2013


Kutlug Ataman, Strange Space, 2009.
Courtesy of the artist & Thomas Dane Gallery


Contemporary Works 

by Arab, Iranian and 

Turkish Artists

April 20, 2013 – September 15, 2013 

Public Opening April 20 7:00-9:00 pm
Audain & O'Brian Galleries


Safar/Voyage will be the first major exhibition of
contemporary art from these regions to be shown 
in Vancouver.  

It is constructed as a journey 
in the company of 16 artists, each of whom 
is neither fixed inside the territories of the Middle East 
nor permanently diasporic. 
Wrapping the globe, their diverse artworks speak 
to the universal theme of voyage (a translation of 
the Persian safar), from the external and geographical 
to the internal, emotional, and existential. 
The artists of Safar/Voyage are positioned as our guides, 
their visions mined for reflections on some of the most urgent 
issues of our time.  
The exhibition is curated by Dr. Fereshteh Daftari, 
former curator at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
MOA Coordinating Curator Dr. Jill Baird, Curator, Education
 & Public Programs.  

Related Events

April 20, 2013

April 21, 2013

April 21, 2013

April 21, 2013

April 23, 2013

June 2, 2013

June 4, 2013

June 11, 2013

April 27, 2013

May 2, 2013

May 7, 2013

May 9, 2013

May 16, 2013

June 9, 2013

August 11, 2013

May 8, 2013

May 3, 2013

May 12, 2013

September 15, 2013

 For a printable listing of public programs

 and events, click here